Mylio Syncs Your Photos in Total Privacy—via Your Own Network

No clouds in sight

  • Online photo storage services often have access to all your photos. 
  • iCloud photo libraries are scanned for illegal images. 
  • Mylio Photos lets you sync your photos over your local network, without any cloud component whatsoever.
Person using Mylio on phone and computer

Mylio

It’s pretty convenient having all your photos synced in the cloud, but wouldn’t you prefer a little more privacy?

If your photos are stored in the cloud, then Apple, Google, or whoever you use has access to them. Some of these hosts scan your images, searching for CSAM or other illegal images, and those images are also subject to various law-enforcement agency warrants. And while preventing illegal activity is a decent cause, preemptively searching the property of unsuspected, presumed-innocent people, just because it’s possible, is akin to letting police into your home to search for whatever they like, just in case, because you know, think of the children. 

“The main reason why someone would want to store their photos locally instead of in the cloud is probably for security. Though cloud-based platforms are decently secure, they aren’t perfect. Anything stored online can be hacked,” Kristen Bolig, CEO of SecurityNerd told Lifewire via email. “However, while storing photos locally offers more security, it also means that there is a greater risk of losing the photos since there are no other backup servers.” 

Local Advantage

Person using Mylio on a phone

Mylio

Mylio Photos is a new version of Mylio’s privacy-first photo-syncing app. The idea is that you get many of the great features of cloud services—sync, facial recognition, and so on—only without your photos ever going anywhere near the cloud. The limited free plan includes 5,000 photos synced on up to three devices, while the Premium plan runs $9.99/month or $99.99/year. With Premium, you get unlimited photos on unlimited devices.

With either plan, you first import your photos into the Mylio app on your computer. Then, it syncs these photos to your phone, tablet, other computers, and so on, only it does it all on your local home network. Mylio doesn’t see your photos, store them, or process them using AI or machine-learning tools. Everything stays on your device. 

Well, almost anything. In testing, I used a firewall app on my iPad to see if the current version of Mylio passed any data up to the internet. The firewall does not name the app that is making connections, but if you launch an app, and run the firewall alongside it, you can see the connections getting blocked in real-time. I saw connections to Google Analytics, the Firebase logger, and Flurry analytics using this tool. It’s pretty certain that none of your photos are leaving your devices, but there’s definitely some data being exfiltrated. 

The point is, Mylio lets you avoid cloud storage entirely (although you can, somewhat ironically, choose Dropbox as one of your storage destinations), but still brings a lot of the features that Apple and Google have gotten us used to. 

On-Device

Person using Mylio on a tablet

Mylio

Last year, Apple said that it was about to start scanning photos as they left our iPhones, iPads, and Macs, on their way to the iCloud Photo Library. Most online photo-storage services scan your images once they’re in the cloud, but Apple caused a big fuss by doing it on your device. 

However, apart from this misstep, which Apple seems to have now buried, the Photos app on your Apple device is pretty private. All facial recognition is done on-device, as is the new object-recognition feature that identifies plants, works of art, and landmarks—although the actual data for these lookups comes from the internet. 

In fact, if Apple were to encrypt your photos on its servers so that they could not be accessed by anyone, including Apple itself, your photo library would be 100% private, even though it was still cloud synced. Technically this is no problem, and some think that Apple’s on-device CSAM scanning was a way to appease law enforcement while Apple went ahead with full server-side encryption. But whatever the possibilities and plans, the fact is that we don’t have full privacy with cloud photo services.

Mylio seems to be a good option, despite its analytics tracking. It’s seamless, it can sync with the photo library you already have on your device, importing those images to Mylio automatically if you like, and it has many of the fancy features we’re accustomed to. 

“There are a lot of solutions for local photo storage, but in my experience, this isn’t something most people are interested in. Cloud-based storage is much more convenient and efficient, so most people are going to prefer that method instead,” Alex Hamerstone of TrustedSec security consultants told Lifewire via email. 

It’s a shame that there aren’t more options for this, but it does seem that most people don’t really care about the privacy of their data. Or rather, they care less about it than about convenience and features. But for now, if you do care, Mylio looks like a good option.

Was this page helpful?